Careless driving claims more lives on roads

Participants at the National Road Safety symposium
Participants at the National Road Safety symposium

Careless driving has been cited as a major contributor to road traffic accidents in Botswana and around the world, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabelo, said yesterday.

“Careless drivers are still the number one cause of road accidents,” Mabeo said when opening a road safety symposium. “

Other causes of road accidents are animals on the road, vehicle defects, driver fatigue and pedestrian error.

Mabeo said the 2014 statistics show a growing increase in accidents as a result of drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unlicensed drivers, weather and road surface conditions.

He said as a member of the United Nations, Botswana signed up and is committed to the global decade of action for road safety 2011-2020.

“The decade of action was borne out of the appalling worldwide statistics showing that 1.3 million people die as a result of road traffic accidents annually, and this is forecast to rise to 1.9 million by 2020, unless drastic measures and action are taken by all stakeholders to reduce this,” Mabelo said.

Mabeo said up to 50 million people are injured and disabled for life and up to 90 percent of fatalities occur in developing countries.

 In 2014, the number of road accidents stood at 16, 641, which is a slight decrease from previous years. In the period of January to mid October 2015 the figure stands at 315 fatalities by comparison to 262 for the same period last year, a 20 percent increase.

Mabeo said the festive season is a traditionally bad time for accidents and is approaching.

The minister said Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) fund spends P40 million on medical bills annually and has set aside P120 million for future expenses incurred by those injured in such accidents.

He thanked Debswana and G4 Consulting Engineers for partnering with them to fight for road accidents.

The managing director for Debswana, Balisi Bonyongo, said Botswana’s roads should also be safer for road users as bad roads also contribute to accidents.

“There is need that we engage even the community to educate about road safety,” he said. “Education is the key to everything since it would help us even to have volunteers from the community who can assist us to reach our target.”

Bonyongo said Debswana took road safety campaign to villages near its mines, hence donkey carts have reflectors.

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